ONE GOOD COP (director/writer: Heywood Gould; cinematographer: Ralf Bode; editor: Richard Marks; music: David Foster/William Ross; cast: Michael Keaton (Artie Lewis), Rene Russo (Rita Lewis), Anthony LaPaglia (Stevie Diroma), Kevin Conway (Lieut. Danny Quinn), Rachel Ticotin (Grace), Tony Plana (Beniamino), Benjamin Bratt (Felix), Charlayne Woodard (Cheryl Clark), Grace Johnston (Marian Diroma), Rhea Silver-Smith (Barbara Diroma), Blair Swanson (Carol Diroma), Vondie Curtis Hall (Father Wills); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Laurence Mark; Hollywood Pictures and Buena Vista Pictures; 1991)

“Manipulative story.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Heywood Gould (“Trial by Jury”/”Double Bang”), a former police reporter of the NY Post, flavors this mundane cop drama in a distasteful moralistic way. The trite dialogue (one line tell us, as if we didn’t know: “Life ain’t easy for orphans”) and the manipulative story do the film in. It was a crowd pleaser that’s meant for the viewer to look at things only from the cop’s POV, even if the lawman has to break the law to carry out his good deeds. That left me confused about what  message about the law I was supposed to take away from this downbeat pic with a supposedly happy ending, that was executed in such a leaden way and the acting was so stiff. In Britain, it went straight to video.

Honest hero NYC cop Artie Lewis (Michael Keaton) is happily married to fashion designer Rita (Rene Russo), and the childless couple live in a cramped city apartment. Artie’s partner is Stevie Diroma (Anthony LaPaglia), a widower with three small daughters (Grace Johnston, Rhea Silver-Smith, and Blair Swanson). During a hostage rescue situation, Steve is afraid the drug-crazed gun-wielder will kill his wife and kids that he’s holding hostage and charges him. It results in Steve killed in action and Artie seeking to adopt his three cuties. What follows are hassles from the Child Welfare Services, who refuse to let the caring couple adopt all three kids because their digs are too small. The pressed for cash cop schemes to buy a house to adopt the kids and needs a $25,000 down payment, which leads him to go astray and rob a scummy drug dealer (Tony Plana)–someone who in a roundabout way is responsible for Steve’s death (he sold the killer the drugs that made him crack). Complications arise when the dealer’s old lady is an undercover cop (Rachel Ticotin), who had him set-up for a big bust that now is not going down as anticipated and the pissed undercover cop figures out that Artie stole the money as a masked stick-up man that caused several deaths during the ensuing shootout. Artie only took the money needed for the house and gave the rest of the evil guy’s swag to a priest (Vondie Curtis Hall) running an orphanage. We’re now faced with Artie being kicked off the force and facing criminal charges, which according to this filmmaker seems like an injustice.

Keaton is a likable and capable actor, but has a hard time veering from Batman to Mr. Mom in this gritty pic that’s unfortunately unconvincing and superficial.

One Good Cop makes for a schmaltzy banal pic as is, but if all those bogus sentimental domestic scenes were junked and it was just screened as a straight urban thriller it would have worked out fine as another routine buddy cop flick.